Privacy on Websites

Consumers are on high-alert with privacy concerns after the last several months of Facebook versus the People. Facebook has been, at times, almost secretive about the privacy controls (or lack thereof) that they have in place and although they say their “recommended settings” do not violate people’s privacy, they make it difficult to find a way to change them. The “recommended settings” do seem to be geared more towards benefiting advertisers versus benefiting the user experience. And it does not help that when in the media spotlight, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg makes no apology for the issues. He instead insists that there is truly “no privacy” while online.

So how do you insure that your information stay private while you are browsing? And how do site owners insure that their sites stay secure for the sake of their many consumers?  Here are some ways that both can be accomplished.

Consumers should:

  1. Realize that a site should tell you two things: what information they collect and what they do with it. Here is a policy page on the website, Hospital Dream Jobs, which describes this well. Look for that page on websites where you are entering your information. In addition, companies must give you an opt out choice for newsletters and mailings.
  2. Understand that log-ons are encrypted and that companies can no longer store your credit card information. Fifteen years ago, sites did store the numbers (usually encrypted).
  3. Look for a secure site when purchasing with a name brand SSL certificate. When a credit card number is entered (if not before), the URL at the top of the page should change from “http” to “https”. With many major sites, this happens after you place items in the shopping cart and proceed with purchase.
  4. Always go directly to sites instead of clicking on links sent in emails, etc.

Site Owners should:

  1. Communicate needs with developer and insist that the site has the best available privacy experience for their consumers.
  2. Use an SSL certificate not only when having e-commerce available on the site but also if you gather any information that you wish to keep secure on the site. There is an annual charge but it does offer some insurance to your consumers. There are also different levels of SSL certificates available. The advanced and costly ones will upgrade a visitors’ browser for them to high levels of security, provide more insurance and even enable the green bar in high security browsers. Check with your developer to see what they recommend for certification.
  3. Research your merchant services to see if there have been complaints against them in regards to privacy and lack of data control.
  4. Immediately contact your hosting provider and merchant service provider if your site is breached. Quickly address concerns with customers and set security in place to prevent a re occurrence.

Here at Blue Sky Projects, we work closely with the site owners to insure site privacy and always have several recommendations ready to help with the effort. Give us a call or email us today.